Bad baserunning, bottom of the lineup does in the Tigers

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One of the big stories of the 2006 World Series is how poor fielding from the Tigers’ pitchers did the team in. In 2012, the focus might go a similarly specific problem; bad slides led to two outs and cost Detroit at least one run in a 2-0 loss in Game 2.

The Tigers lost a run in the second, when Delmon Young doubled and Prince Fielder’s horrible baserunning allowed Buster Posey to employ a swipe tag at the plate. Posey, who has forbidden from blocking the plate since last year’s collision, was up the line and never would have been able to reach Fielder had he taken a wider angle to the plate. Instead, Fielder was actually running inside the baseline by the time he was approaching Posey. He still almost got in anyway, but Dan Iassogna made the right call at the plate.

If Fielder had scored, the Tigers would have had a 1-0 lead, a man on second and no outs, putting them in position to do some real damage against Madison Bumgarner. Instead, Bumgarner got out of the inning scoreless.

The second bad slide came on Omar Infante’s caught stealing to end the fourth. That one probably wasn’t so costly, but maybe Young would have come through again with a man on base. For what little it’s worth, he struck out to open the next inning.

The Tigers are also suffering from a lack of production at the bottom of the lineup, which was a recurring theme even when the pitcher wasn’t hitting during the regular season. The Tigers don’t have a hit from their seven, eight or nine hitters through two games. Things might get better there now that the Tigers are returning to Detroit and can employ the DH. Andy Dirks is probably the team’s fourth-best hitter, and he’ll be back in the lineup with right-handers on the mound the next two games.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.